“Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.” Mohsin Hamid
Here we are, the final Echo reverberates across The Cube in hybrid glitch form.
The photo booth is installed, the virtual mirror throbs in anticipation and the Echo character maps across the space. She navigates us, “Come closer” she says, you are now part of something bigger”.
The last month has seen many creative and technical developments, including the integration of the narratives. They began as fiction and ended as readymades. Real intimate stories from real people. Through the mirror our storytellers confide in you, the user, revealing moments of their lives where they have suffered or overcome hardship. As their narrative unfolds the features of your face slowly morph into their face. They operate you with their expressions and leave you placed firmly in their shoes. This intimate experience forces us to relate and connect with those outside of our normal social sphere. Narrative has long been a tool for empathy, awareness and social change, Echo intends to push this further still by immersing the viewer visually as well as through the imagination.
“Storytelling is both the seductive siren and the safe haven that encourages the connection with the feared “other.” How we relate to stories and storytelling can be seen as an acid-test for empathy.” PJ Manney 2008
As I sit in The Cube and watch people interact I’m seeing the experiment unfold in so many different ways, working for a range of ages and tendencies. Within five minutes these animated experiences jump from the intimate booth to the large screens above and a new digital family begins to breed. The aim of the project is to break down prejudices and connect people through shared identity and expression. Check out this taster video
“Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.” Brecht
As the world becomes more complex and digitally connected the role of empathy becomes more and more important as we become more isolated. In the future Echo will continue to build a culturally diverse archive of stories and identities with the intention of finding a new personalised, emotive tool to connect people and tackle the epidemic of loneliness of our digital age.
Echo will be screening at The Cube until Friday 28 April.